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A Singaporean unit of commodities trading giant Glencore has had its bunker supplier license suspended for two months after an investigation revealed that it intentionally supplied contaminated fuel to ships at the Port of Singapore.
A unit of PetroChina was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) launched an investigation in March after learning that a number of ships had been supplied with High Sulphur Fuel Oil (HSFO) containing high levels of chlorinated organic compounds (COC), which are not normally found in bunker fuel.
Samples of the fuel were traced to local units of Glencore and PetroChina, both of whom are MPA-licensed bunker suppliers at the Port of Singapore.
An MPA investigation into the incident found that the source of the contaminated fuel could be traced to a fuel cargo originating at the Port of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates. While the MPA’s investigation found no evidence that Glencore or PetroChina had intentionally contaminated the fuel, it did show that Glencore continued to supply it to ships even after learning of the contamination.
According to the MPA, Glencore confirmed the contaminatation through required labratory testing between March 21 and 23, 2022, yet it continued to supply bunkers blended with the fuel to ships in the Port of Singapore from March 22 up until April 1.
In total, Glencore supplied 24 vessels with the fuel and at least 3 reported issues with their fuel pumps and engines.
On the other hand, PetroChina stopped delivery of the fuel promptly on March 19 upon receiving its own test results.
The MPA said that Glencore failed to meet the terms and conditions of its MPA-issued Bunkering Licence and has suspended its license for two months starting August 18, 2022.
Meanwhile, no action has been taken against PetroChina.
Glencore has been given the chance to respond to the MPA’s finding before the agency finalizes its conclusion.
With responsibility over the world’s leading bunkering hub, the MPA said it takes compliance with its bunkering licensing regime seriously and won’t hesitate to suspend or cancel licenses of bunker suppliers that fail to adhere to its standards.
The MPA’s fuel quality assurance measures require bunker fuels to be tested for fuel quality standards (ISO 8217) before they are supplied to ships. On average, over 1,300 bunker samples are tested annually. Going forward, the MPA says those tests will specifically look for Chlorinated Organic Compounds (COC) levels despite how rare they are.
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